College Smarts

Take heed, Mom and Dad—for college juniors and seniors, now’s the time to start investing in quality pieces that will take them into life beyond the quad.


Blazers, knits and fine accessories will impress that future boss, but also earn their closet real estate for more casual affairs.

“It makes sense as you get older to acquire some good, classic pieces that you are going to love and will last for years,” says stylist Denise Kaplan. That’s a philosophy that earns honors with us any day.

Hannah Gettleman
School: University of Illinois
Class of 2012
Major: Journalism
Summer Job: Make It Better Intern

When the days get grayer, keep your spirits—and your wardrobe—bright. “I like the pop of color to break up the dark jeans and jacket,” aspiring fashion journalist Hannah says of her pink top. The tunic length, paired with skinny jeans and sophisticated heels, makes her petite frame look long and lean. A well-cut black blazer is a staple that should hang in every woman’s closet: Wear it for interviews, family dinners or nights on the town. Kaplan also swears by Theory tanks for layering: “They create a great line underneath clothes,” she says.

Trina Turk black boxwood blazer, $328, 7 for All Mankind “The Skinny” in rinsed indigo, $136, Hobo black patent clutch, $130, Three Sisters; Tt Collection “Arquette” racer tank in peony, $180, Gavin; Theory “Len” black tubular tank top, $105, Saks Fifth Avenue; Kate Spade “Glenda” black patent slingback, $295, Shirise; Vintage 5 Jewelry flower ring, $70, shoe buckle bracelet, $150,; Lisa Rosen triple strand black onyx and silver necklace, $190, triple strand black onyx necklace with silver leaves, $190,

Clayton Cohn
School: DePaul University
Class of 2012
Major: Finance and Accounting
Summer Job: Founder of

Clayton is hardly the typical student: A marine who served two tours in Iraq, he is now in the midst of starting up financial services corporation As such, he knows the benefits of being a sharp-dressed man. “I do buy quality pieces—not for the name, but because I intend to have them for a while,” he says. A tailored sport coat will impress potential clients and transition easily to after-hours fun when paired with jeans and a t-shirt.

Theory black sport coat, $550, Barney’s CO-OP; Oneculture dark denim jeans, $225, Blues Jean Bar; Armani Exchange A|X black t-shirt, $38, Armani Exchange; Express black belt, $40, Express; HE beads clay bead bracelet, $48,; Lisa Rosen black braided leather cord necklace with silver serpent tag, $120,; dog tags and watch, Clayton’s own; Maui Jim MJ122 sunglasses in gunmetal with polarized grey lens, $269, Superior Optical; Salvatore Ferragamo Gancio bit moccasin, $350, Salvatore Ferragamo

Jane Connell
School: University of Iowa
Class of 2011
Major: Social Work
Summer Job: Make It Better Intern

Bundling up doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Jane, who hopes to pursue social work with mothers from pre-natal to post-partum care, appreciates that her look is comfortable but still trendy. Kaplan advises investing in wools and cashmeres, which last longer than summer fabrics like cotton and linen. Balance a large, cozy sweater with skinny jeans or cigarette pants and delicate, feminine jewelry. Rain boots with interesting patterns or colors make stomping around in bad weather a little more enjoyable.

Kaori charcoal turtleneck tunic sweater, $428, She Boutique; Adriano Goldschmied destroyed premier jean, $255, Denim Lounge; Tory Burch “Tory Logo Rainboot” in black/gray, $150, Shirise; Tory Burch wool flannel “Tory” tote, $255,; Vintage 5 Jewelry chain necklace, $225, vintage bangles, $170 each,; Sway Jewelry by Vicki Stauber sterling silver ring with large labradoite, $130,

Kelly Maguire
School: University of Iowa
Class of 2011
Major: Journalism and Mass Communication
Summer Job: Make It Better Intern

This ladylike look is edged up with ruched booties and a large leather bag, while the chandelier pendant adds sparkle and glamour. “Accessories make an outfit,” says Kaplan. “Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles. It shows confidence.” Kelly, who wants to write for the entertainment industry, likes that this look could be dressed up or down and worn for multiple occasions. Long cardigans like this one are on trend for autumn, and carry shorter dresses into fall.

Free People long black cardigan with shawl collar, $108, Dex plum dress, $86, Sugarlips black textured leggings, $25, Matisse “Ellie” black bootie, $155, BCBGeneration large black tote with zipper trim, $138, Just Between Friends; The North Face spano brim hat in plum paisley, $18, Snowbird Ski & Patio; Vintage 5 Jewelry rhinestone necklace, $260, vintage ring, $70,; Sway Jewelry by Vicki Stauber sterling rhodium and ruthenium plated bracelets, $236 each,

Johnny Hilbrant
School: University of Denver
Class of 2012
Major: Business
Summer Job: Assistant Pool Manager

A preppy plaid shirt stays playful with contrasting patterns on the cuffs and collar. An improv actor and comedian, Johnny can wear this sporty look on stage, or exchange the jeans for khakis and add a blazer for meetings or other dressier events. Quality denim is always a smart purchase since it typically gets the most wear, and Sperry Top-Siders are a comfy and affordable trend continuing into fall.

Bugachi blue and melon exploding plaid shirt
, $150, Nat Nast melon interlock knit shirt, $70, Agave organic distressed denim, $265, Avant for Men; Sperry Top-Siders authentic original boat shoe in classic brown, $64.99, The Bootery; Bark4Care navy cord necklace with tree bark pendant, $10,; The North Face “Denali” fleece jacket in bittersweet brown, $165, Burton cargo bag 2494 in blue/orange, $110, Snowbird Ski & Patio; Ray-Ban RB3025 gold aviator with G-15 grey lens, $144, Superior Optical

Photos by Jon Cancelino

Stylist: Denise Kaplan, Denise Kaplan & Associates Wardrobe/Stylist Consultants

Makeup: Skatie Noyes

Hair: Leslie Schmidt, Sam Martirano Salon & Spa

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